PHOTO: Mexico finished first at the Thunderbird competition June 3. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance)
Mexico took the win at the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup jumping series Friday in front of huge crowds of horse fans at the Thunderbird Show Park.
June 3 marks the first time an Olympic calibre FEI (International Equestrian Federation) equestrian team jumping competition took place in B.C.
“I have to say that these are the best riders we’ve ever seen on our field,” said Jane Tidball, Thunderbird president.
Canada came in second while Ireland’s team took third. Also competing were the United States and Belgium.
The Mexican team sent their horses here about two weeks ago to become accustomed to the facility.
“This ring has a big slope, [which] makes it more complicated… But I think the course designer did a beautiful job,” said Team Mexico member Alberto Michan. “It was very fair.”
Course designer Peter Holmes said the calibre of competitor dictates the difficulty of the course.
“You’re always aiming for a challenging sport sbut there has to be some safety limits,” he said. “Because the quality of riders and horses was so high, we really had to reach for the challenge.”
Despite winning the Nations Cup, Mexico will sit out the next Olympics in favour of competing at Spruce Meadows in Calgary and the international equestrian championships in Barcelona in September.
Team Canada will feature local athlete and Canadian Olympian Tiffany Foster and Olympic gold medalist Eric Lamaze.
Foster, originally from North Vancouver, was Canada’s youngest equestrian competitor at the 2012 Olympic Games.
She has overcome adversity after breaking her back in 2008 while riding a young horse, and doctors feared she would never walk again, let alone ride.
Unfazed, she burst onto the international show jumping circuit in 2011 and has represented Canada in 22 Nation Cup events and the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto.
PHOTO: Sarah and Kristen Reed, of Mission, were elated after their mom got Team Canada rider Eric Lamaze to autograph their figurine of Hickstead, one of Lamaze’s horses. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance)